MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: National Broadband Network

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (16:39): If there was any greater way of telling that the government were embarrassed about their own failure at the NBN, it is the fact that their minister, who was so deeply involved in it for so long, spent the first half of his speech talking about anything other than the NBN. They do not want to talk about the NBN at all. It has turned out to be a massive embarrassment for them, because a network that was supposed to be delivered faster is being delivered slower; a network that was supposed to be delivered cheaper has doubled in cost; and they are failing to even meet the simple targets that they set for themselves. In fact, to their great credit, nbn co is rolling out apologies for service faster than fibre. They have done very well at the apology letter writing business. They are doing excellently at that.

I do love the sense of irony that the coalition put out this policy on the NBN. What it really should have been is their promise to deliver high-speed semaphore, because that is all they are capable of delivering. When you go through the statistics they are damning. Let's go through every single thing they said they would do and whether they delivered. This is the reason Minister Fletcher was unable to talk about the NBN for the first half of his speech.

Malcolm Turnbull promised everyone in the country that they would get the NBN this year. More than 83 per cent of the country are still waiting for the second-rate network. Malcolm Turnbull said that his second-rate NBN would cost $29.5 billion; now the cost is almost $56 billion. He said in 2013 he would get his second-rate NBN to all homes in Australia by this year; that time frame is now out to 2020. He said that his second-rate copper NBN would cost $600 per home; that has now tripled to $1,600 per home. He said in 2013 that it would cost $55 million to patch up the old copper network; that has blown out by more than 1,300 per cent.

Mr Stephen Jones: How much?

Mr HUSIC: 1,300 per cent, Member for Throsby. He also said in 2013 that 2.61 million homes would be connected to pay TV cables by 2016; nbn co now forecast that they will only connect 10,000 homes by June this year. He said his second-rate network would bring in $2.5 billion in revenue; that has crashed to $1.1 billion. These are all nails in the coffin of every single fantasy that that side would deliver faster broadband. But do you know what the most damning one is? In his two years as communications minister, the man who promised us fibre to the node did not connect a single paying customer to his fibre-to-the-node network—not one in two years. To say that you are the friend of the NBN and that you are going to deliver on the NBN is almost like Kathy Bates inMisery classifying her sledge hammer as a therapeutic good.

It is ridiculous that your side can competently say, in any shape or form, that you are here to deliver. You are not. You are simply slowing down the network, and people know that it is a dud. Now you have a situation where the jobs of the future are being shipped out overseas. The jobs of the future are to deal with copper. Who in their right minds ever said that the future was copper? It is like delivering a hybrid horse and buggy. It is a joke of what you have turned this network into that you could be reduced to this—that it would all be about copper.

Do you know what I would be interested in, Minister? During your time at Optus, you talked so much about the hybrid network—HFC and hybrid fixed cable. I would love—

Mr Fletcher interjecting

Mr HUSIC: Coaxial, sorry. You know the name of it and you know how bad it is. But you never mention how many complaints you got on that network, how unreliable it was during your time at Optus and how unreliable it would be now. They are still stuck in the past.

The bottom line is this: if you want to see a modern network that will meet the expectations of the community, you cannot rely on that side opposite. They will do everything they can to slow the rollout down, to make sure it is inaccessible and to make sure it does not deliver for Australians in the way that they want. It is going to be Labor that will have to fix up this network.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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